Durant leads Alouettes past Argonauts to spoil Trestman’s Montreal return

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Darian Durant. (Graham Hughes/AP)

Montreal Alouettes head coach Jacques Chapdelaine doesn’t want to give up top spot in the CFL East.

Darian Durant threw touchdown passes to Ernest Jackson and George Johnson as the Alouettes downed the visiting Toronto Argonauts 21-9 on Friday to snap their two-game losing skid and take first place in the division. Montreal improved to 3-4 while Toronto fell to 3-5. Both teams play each other next week in Toronto.

"We want to keep moving forward and we want to hold on to first place now," said Chapdelaine. "It’s up to us now to keep our intensity and keep executing. Today we made plays when we needed them the most. That’s the sign of a winning team.

"This was a hugely important game for us and we’re going to keep pressing forward."

Boris Bede kicked three field goals for the Alouettes, while Argos kicker Lirim Hajrullahu kicked three field goals for the visitors’ only points.

"We just didn’t get it done," said Toronto receiver S.J. Green, who was traded from Montreal to Toronto in the off-season. "It’s a tough loss against a decent opponent and we could have been two games up on first place. It’s a tough one to swallow.

"The good thing is we get this team again next week to redeem ourselves."

Former coach Marc Trestman’s return to Montreal was spoiled as the Argonauts extended their losing streak to three games.

With starting quarterback Ricky Ray injured, Trestman gave the ball to 25-year-old Jeff Matthews. But Matthews threw for just 67 yards in the first half. Cody Fajardo, who replaced him at halftime, went 10 for 16 and 75 yards.

"We had opportunities with Jeff but we certainly didn’t give him enough time," said Trestman. "I wanted to take a look at both quarterbacks. We didn’t go into the game that way but I wanted to see Cody play as well."

Durant, who went 18-for-27 passing for 237 yards, got the Alouettes on the board in the first quarter with a 41-yard touchdown toss to Jackson, his third TD catch of the season.

Bede added a point to Montreal’s lead at the start of the second quarter after he missed a 31-yard field goal.

Durant made it 15-0 for the home side when he connected with Johnson from 16 yards out at 7:27 of the second quarter.

Before the end of the half, Durant became the 14th best all-time passer in CFL history when he reached 30,407 throwing yards, passing Sam Etcheverry.

Hajrullahu and Bede traded two field goals apiece to give Montreal the 21-6 lead.

"We didn’t keep them out of the end zone early and we had some penalties again," said former Alouettes linebacker Bear Woods, who was released by Montreal in the off-season. "I don’t even know if we had a takeaway defensively. I see 21 points on the board, and that’s too many points."

The Alouettes took that 15-point lead into the fourth quarter looking to prevent a collapse like their last time out. Montreal blew a 12-point lead in the final two minutes in Winnipeg two weeks ago.

Hajrullahu cut the deficit to 21-9 with his third field goal of the game with 8:36 remaining in the match.

The Argos looked to have scored a touchdown with less than two minutes on the clock but the play was called back for an illegal block.

"Our defence played a tremendous game," said Trestman. "We held them to three points in the second half. We had two opportunities to score touchdowns in that fourth quarter. We had penalties on both. Penalties are really what disrupted our flow tonight."

Toronto finished with 119 yards of penalties. Montreal had 110.

Notes: Trestman won back-to-back Grey Cups with the Alouettes in 2009 and 2010. His final game as an Alouette was on Oct. 28, 2012. … Attendance at Percival Molson Stadium was 19,712.